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Donald Sterling asks appeals court to block sale of Clippers, but appeal was quickly denied

Aug 8, 2014, 9:14 PM EDT

Donald Sterling, V. Stiviano Donald Sterling, V. Stiviano

UPDATE 10:08 p.m.: That was fast.

ESPN reports: “The California appellate court late Friday denied a request from deposed Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling to block the sale of the team.”

9:14 p.m.: When we last checked in on the court case between Donald Sterling and his wife Shelly involving the sale of the Clippers, it was ruled that Shelly was victorious, which meant that the sale of the team to Steve Ballmer could go through as planned.

Anytime you’re dealing with Sterling and the court system, however, it’s rarely that simple.

Sterling doesn’t take his legal defeats lightly, and given his knowledge of the system and the virtually unlimited funds he has to continue to work it, it isn’t a surprise that he continued to pursue his options to try to change what at this point is an inevitable conclusion.


Sterling’s lawyers said in their request for a writ of mandate that if the sale goes through, “Donald will have lost a unique and irretrievable asset: a ‘trophy asset’ coveted by high net worth individuals around the world — one of thirty NBA franchises in the country, and one that under Donald’s thirty-year ownership has recently become one of the most successful.”

In a statement responding to the filing, Ballmer’s attorney Adam Streisand said: “We won this trial because Donald Sterling is on an egotistical crusade to destroy the Clippers if he can’t keep the team, and he can’t. We will win the appeal for the very same reason.”

The main complaint of the appellants is the judge’s decision to allow the sale to go forward with no time for an appeal. He used a section of law that bars a stay of his decision.

Given that provision, it was unclear if the appeal would have any effect. The sale could conceivably go forward while the appeal makes its way through the courts.

The reality of the situation is that the sale is going to happen. In the unlikely event that this appeal process ends up being successful, the league will simply meet and terminate Sterling’s ownership interest in the Clippers by majority ownership vote, which was the plan all along before Shelly was able to negotiate this particular sale that her husband is now fighting.

Sterling has the funds to continue to exhaust every available remedy he has under the law, but it’s appearing more and more like all of that is simply a waste of everyone’s time. One way or another, it’s almost certain that the team will be officially transferred out of his control before next season begins.

  1. sternf - Aug 8, 2014 at 9:30 PM

    He’s lost:

    Date Description Notes
    08/08/2014 Filed petition for writ of: Mandate and/or Prohibition or other appropriate relief. ***Request for Immediate Stay***
    08/08/2014 Exhibits filed in support of: Mandate and or Prohibition. TEN VOLUMES OF EXHIBITS.
    08/08/2014 Request for judicial notice filed.
    08/08/2014 Filed document entitled: Notice of Errata to alphabetical index of exhibits to writ petition.
    08/08/2014 Filed letter from: Petitioner’s letter dated August 8, 2014
    08/08/2014 Opposition filed. Real Party in Interest Rochelle Sterling’s opposition to petition for writ of mandate.
    08/08/2014 Default notice for responsive filing fee sent to: Rochelle Sterling et al.
    08/08/2014 Order denying petition filed. We have read and considered the petition for writ of mandate and request for an immediate stay filed on August 8, 2014. We have also read and considered the April 8, 2014 letter from petitioner’s counsel and the trial court’s minute order of the same date vacating its August 7, 2014 statement of decision. The petition is denied without prejudice to re-filing at the appropriate time in that presently there is nothing for this court to review.

    • rmccleary97 - Aug 9, 2014 at 10:18 AM

      10 volumes of exhibits? I wonder how much of that was actually relevant to the case and how much of it was just fluff and rambling.

      • sternf - Aug 9, 2014 at 12:25 PM

        Judge Levanas doesn’t suffer fools so I suspect most of it was relevant. There were great lawyers on each side and this was a complicated $2 billion case. No reason to disparage the lawyers when you know nothing about the case.

  2. money2long - Aug 8, 2014 at 9:43 PM

    Sterling is like the enemy in dragon ball z that you think you obliterated with a kamehameha blast, but when the dust settles he’s there ready for more.

    • Wammy Giveaway - Aug 9, 2014 at 12:11 PM

      Is that enemy named Cell?

  3. tampajoey - Aug 8, 2014 at 9:55 PM

    Or the D.U.P. Bltch in Infamous Second Son

  4. seattlesuperchronic - Aug 8, 2014 at 10:05 PM


    That is seriously the best reference I’ve ever seen. Good job, buddy. A+ work.

  5. jcmeyer10 - Aug 8, 2014 at 10:09 PM

    Anyone else here who would fight a 2 billion (before taxes) payday? Yah this guy is lost.

    • daviddmsvcp - Aug 9, 2014 at 4:38 AM

      He may be lost. But he does not need the money. He is already a billionaire. Apparently, owning a basketball team gives him happiness.

    • apkyletexas - Aug 9, 2014 at 12:58 PM

      I wish someone would make me sell something for $2 billion that I bought for nothing. Especially if $2 billion was more than double the current market value. Few people realize that the $12.5 million purchase price in 1981 was almost $0 cash – Sterling mostly agreed to arrange financing for some outstanding debt of the organization.

  6. pukpokito - Aug 9, 2014 at 3:42 AM

    and a 1 and a 2 and a sing it!…..Let it go! Let it go!

  7. raycharlesj - Aug 9, 2014 at 8:26 AM

    It is Obvious Sterling is SENILE!! And Has a lot of Money to play with, Who else gets Mad when they purchase something, Anything!!! for 12 million dollars and Stands to Profit over a BILLION DOLLARS??? That Alone proves he has gone BATTY in the head and his wife is in the right.

  8. sternf - Aug 9, 2014 at 9:04 AM

    Let me add some comments about the status of the probate case.

    Judge Levanas made a tentative ruling last month. It has to go through a process before it can become a final (and appealable) ruling. Judge Levanas then entered a statement of decision, but did so too early, before the other side could formally file its objections. So Judge Levanas vacated the statement of decision. The emergency papers to the court of appeal reflected the incorrectly entered statement of decision, but the court of appeal noted that Judge Levanas unwound what he had done, so the petition to the court of appeal was moot and, therefore, denied.

    Once a final statement of decision and judgment are entered, Sterling will be able to file an appeal. But an appeal won’t give him all the relief he needs since the appeal could take a year or more and the sale will have gone through by that time and be unchallengeable. Therefore, this is one of those cases where an appeal will not fully protect Sterling’s rights.

    So Sterling’s lawyers want to file a petition for a writ of mandate/prohibition on an emergency basis to overturn the final decision (when it comes). That’s what they tried to do yesterday and what they will do when Judge Levanas issues his statement of decision.

    So, this isn’t over yet.

    One more thing to note: Everyone was expecting this move by Sterling. The other side quickly filed an opposition — the same day — and the court of appeal ruled on this, again on the same day. (But that ruling was on a procedural issue, not the merits.)

    In my view (I’ve been doing this for 45 years) this will be decided quickly and almost certainly against Sterling.

    • AZ Dem - Aug 15, 2014 at 3:07 PM

      You’re right in that Sterling is not going to give up.

      You’re right in that Sterling will lose.

      But I’ll just add contract law. Sterling signed a contract with the NBA recognizing the NBA’s legal right to take his franchise rights away from him. Without having to show cause.

  9. ijusth - Aug 9, 2014 at 1:55 PM

    “simply a waste of everyone’s time”. NOPE. His lawyers will earn a tonna cash knowing full well they have a fool as a client and just keep cashing their fee checks.

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